|The Parthenon ( 447-432 BC) is situated at the summit of the Acropolis of Athens. It is perhaps the greatest monument of the Classical period (650-323 BC) because it summarizes the ultimate refinement of the Doric temple. The unusually wide rectangular plan measures 31x 69 metres ( 102 x 226 feet).
The peristyle, the range of 8 by 17 columns surrounding the temple, contains two rooms, enclosed within solid ashlar walls.
The naos, with its inner supporting colonnade, accommodated the statue of the patron goddess, Athena.
The local, white Pentelic marble provided the perfect medium for the sharpness of detail required for the design and execution of the sculpted relief panels of the frieze and portico . The Parthenon frieze presents scenes from the procession of the Athenian Knights, contests between the gods and mythical figures, heroic battles of the Greeks and the Amazons, and scenes from the siege of Troy. The main subject of the frieze is the procession of worshippers on their way to the Acropolis to celebrate the festival called the Great Panathenaca in honour of the goddess Athena. The relief sculptures of the frieze were cut more deeply towards the top of the panels in order to correct the apparent foreshortening when viewed from below. Between 1801-1803 the frieze panels were removed from the building by Lord Elgin, then British Consul in Athens, to save them from being destroyed by the Turks. They are now kept in the British Museum.
The building was subject to meticulous refinements of proportion and geometry, known as entasis, in order to maintain an appearance of exact alignment.
A sacred and defensive site, the Acropolis has served as a model of an idealized civic society for Western architecture. The Acropolis contains some of the most impressive monuments of the Greek period.
The head or crowning feature of a column is called the capital which is divided into an echinus and an abacus. The upper part of the capital, the abacus, is a slab of stone which helps relieve the tensile forces in the beam above it, the architrave
The upper part of an order consists of an architrave, a frieze and a cornice.
The marble frieze was carved along the top of the inner entablature of the naos just below the peristyle ceiling.
The steps have a curved profile. The treads present a slight upward tilt. The Greek temple presented a complex geometry for construction because of the many devices used to correct perspective distortion.
The columns have the monumental proportions of the Doric order. The drums of white Pentelic marble were fluted and in order to emphasize the shadow-lines and the volumetric composition the flutes grew deeper towards the top of the column shaft.
|The end columns
The end columns have a closer spacing and thicker diameter than the main columns and incline diagonally towards the centre of the temple in order to correct the optical illusion of inclining outwardly. The rest of the columns are inclined inwardly , 6 centimetres (2.4 inches) from the vertical line.
The tapering columns are swollen in section, about two fifths of the way up, to correct the illusion of a concave profile that a straight shaft would otherwise produce.
|The statue of Athena
The naos was dominated by the statue of Athena, the patron goddess of the city of Athens. Athena, a masterpiece of the sculptor Phidias, was made from plates of gold and ivory and stood 12.6 metres (42 feet) high in the middle of the naos. The statue stood facing east so that it caught the light of the rising sun early in the morning and glittered in all its magnificence.
ashlar: hewn blocks of masonry wrought to even faces and square edges and laid in horizontal courses with vertical joints.
hew hewed hewed or hewn: cut, shape.
masonry: stonework or brickwork
entasis: the tapering columns are swollen in section, about two fifths of the way up, to correct the illusion of a concave profile that a straight shaft would otherwise produce.
flute: a concave groove on the shaft of a column or pilaster
frieze: the horizontal band between the architrave and the cornice of a classical entablature, one that is decorated with sculpture.
naos: inner part of a Greek temple; another name for cella.
pediment: not a Greek or Roman term. But in classical architecture it is a low-pitched gable ( a triangular upper portion of a wall at the end of a pitched roof) above the portico.
peristyle: a range of columns surrounding a building or an open court.
portico: the covered entrance of a building with columns and pediment like a temple front; in everyday English porch.
alignment: arrangement in a straight line.
colonnade: a row of columns carrying an entablature or arches.
design: the structure or form of something, a pattern, a plan; to plan or make something artistically or skilfully.
foreshortening: the illusion of a line or form being shorter than actual length in accordance with the law of linear perspective.
sculpted relief panels: raised forms or figures carved on a flat marble background.
shaft: the trunk of a column between the base and capital.
tensile forces: the longitudinal stress of a material and its capacity to withstand it without breaking.
tread: the top surface of a step in a staircase.
medium: a means
sharpness of detail: clearly defined detail
|Looking at Architecture|